Civil Rights Organizations Call for Senate Hearing on Hate Crimes, Hate Groups

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Families and supporters of the shooting victims gather at a Candlelight Vigil in Oak Creek, Wis., on Aug. 7. (Photo by Margaret Igowsky, Wisconsin JACL)

WASHINGTON — In response to the shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and other recent incidents, the Japanese American Citizens League joined more than 150 community organizations in urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct a hearing on hate crimes and hate groups.

The request was sent Aug. 21 to the committee’s chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and ranking minority member, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). It reads as follows:

“We, the undersigned organizations, representing millions of diverse constituents around the nation, respectfully request that the Senate Judiciary Committee urgently conduct a hearing next month on the need to address hate crimes and the proliferation of hate groups in the United States.

“This is not a theoretical concern: According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups in our country (currently numbering over a thousand) has grown by almost 60% since 2000. In 2010, more than 47% of hate crimes were racially motivated; 20% were motivated by the religion of the victim; 19% were based on sexual orientation and almost 13% of all hate crimes were based on ethnicity or national origin.

“During the last month alone, six worshipers at a Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin were massacred by an attacker with known ties to hate groups, and approximately ten Islamic institutions and Muslim communities in seven states have experienced attacks including vandalism, a suspicious burning, shootings, and the desecration of religious sanctuaries.

“The Jewish community continues to experience persistent bias attacks, accounting for 65% of all religiously motivated hate crimes documented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2010.

“Hate crimes based on anti-Hispanic bias accounted for nearly 67% of ethnically motivated crimes in 2010.

“Although African Americans made up only 12.4% of the U.S. population in 2010, they accounted for 70% of all racially motivated hate crimes that year.

“Thousands of other individuals in our nation continue to be affected by hate violence due to their race, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, or immigration status.

“According to hate crime statistics published by the FBI, there were at least 6,628 hate crimes reported in the United States in 2010. These incidents understate the problem of hate crimes in the United States, partly because of underreporting by victims, and partly because hate crime reporting by law enforcement agencies is voluntary.

“A 2005 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics suggested that the true number of hate crimes in the United States may be 15 times higher than that which is currently reported. Underreporting may be compounded by policies and political rhetoric (in support of broad-scale racial profiling, for example) that could make hate crime victims apprehensive about immigration and law enforcement authorities.

“Given the persistence of hate crimes and the proliferation of hate groups, we believe that a hearing is both timely and necessary. We are especially interested in examining the status of the implementation of the Matthew Shepard Act; improvements to hate crime reporting and data collection; and the need for more robust hate crime prevention measures, consistent with protections for First Amendment rights and civil liberties.

“For additional information, please contact Mr. Rajdeep Singh, director of law and policy at the Sikh Coalition, at [email protected] or by phone at (202) 747-4944. We look forward to partnering with you to address these important issues and offer gratitude for your consideration.”

The following organizations endorsed this message:

80-20 National Asian American PAC – Central Ohio Chapter

80-20 National Asian American PAC – Southwest Ohio Chapter

ACUDIR (Alameda County United in Defense of Immigrant Rights)

Adhikaar

Afghan American Bar Association

African American Ministers Leadership Council

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

American Association of University Women

American Ethical Union

American Jewish Committee

American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA)

Anti-Defamation League

API Chaya, Seattle

API Equality – LA

Arab American Action Network (AAAN) – Chicago

Arab American Association of New York

Arab American Institute

Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS)

Arab Muslim American Federation

Asian American Council – Dayton, Ohio

Asian American Federation

Asian American Institute

Asian American Justice Center, a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Asian Americans for Community Involvement

Asian Immigrant Women Advocates

Asian Law Alliance

Asian Law Caucus, a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO

Asian Pacific American Legal Center, a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice

Asian Pacific Community in Action

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Asian Services In Action, Inc. (ASIA)

Association of Muslim American Lawyers (AMAL)

Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA)

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Blacks in Law Enforcement of America

The Center for APA Women

Center for Social Inclusion

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Church Women United

Club of Indian Women

Community to Community Development

Cordoba Initiative

Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC)

Council on American-Islamic Relations Council on American Islamic Relations – California (CAIR-CA)

Council on American-Islamic Relations – New York Chapter (CAIR-NY)

Council on American Islamic Relations – Texas, Dallas Fort Worth Chapter (CAIR-DFW)

Council on American-Islamic Relations – Washington (CAIR-WA)

Counselors Helping (South) Asians/Indians, Inc. (CHAI)

Dignity Campaign

DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving

The Episcopal Church

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Equal Rights Center

Family Equality Council

Fellowship of Reconciliation

FICA (Federation of India Community Associations of NE Ohio, Cleveland)

Filipino Advocates for Justice (FAJ)

Gay and Lesbian Medical Association

Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network

Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV)

Groundswell – Auburn Theological Seminary

Hindu American Foundation

Hmong National Development

Human Rights Campaign

Human Rights First

Human Rights Litigation and International Advocacy Clinic, University of Minnesota Law School

Immigration Equality

Interfaith Alliance Interfaith Center of New York

International Human Rights Clinic, NYU School of Law

Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)

Islamic Networks Group (ING)

Japanese American Citizens League

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Jewish Labor Committee

Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI)

Jews For Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ)

Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

MAI Family Services

Manavi

MIRA! Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance

Mujeres Unidas y Activas

Muslim Advocates

Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC)

Muslim Bar Association of Chicago

Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY)

Muslim Consultative Network

Muslim Public Affairs Council

Muslim Public Affairs Council – New York Chapter

NAACP

NAFSA: Association of International Educators

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)

National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development

National Congress of American Indians

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council of La Raza

National Disability Rights Network

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

National Immigration Law Center

Network of Arab American Professionals (NAAP)

National Minority AIDS Council

National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

National Organization for Women

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

OneAmerica

Open Society Foundations

Organization of Chinese Americans, Silicon Valley Chapter

The Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee

People For the American Way Foundation

PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)

Priority Africa Network

Raksha

Rights Working Group

Sakhi for South Asian Women

San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium

Secular Coalition for America

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)

The Sikh Coalition

Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team

Social Justice Guild of the First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta

South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI)

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY)

South Asian Bar Association of Northern California (SABA-NC)

South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia

South Asian Bar Association of Southern California

South Asian Bar Association of Washington, D.C. (SABA-DC)

South Asian Network

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Southern Poverty Law Center

South Asian Progressive Action Collective

South Asian Youth Action (SAYA)

Trikone-Chicago

Turning Point for Women and Families

Union for Reform Judaism

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

The United Church of Christ/Justice and Witness Ministries

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

UNITED SIKHS

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

USPAK Foundation

Women in Islam Inc.

Young People For

YWCA USA

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